Preparing for a Parental Responsibilities Evaluation
When parents are unable to agree on the allocation of parental responsibilities or on a parenting time schedule, judges will often appoint an evaluator to study the situation and make recommendations. Often judges will adopt most, or even all, of the recommendations of the selected evaluator. Therefore, you need to understand how such an evaluation works.
Appointing the Evaluator
Judges have the discretion to appoint a custody or parental responsibilities evaluator when deemed to be necessary based on the circumstances of a particular case. Some judges will simply appoint an evaluator from a court-approved list. Other times, a judge will provide the parties a few names and ask them to agree on an evaluator. Many, if not most, evaluators are psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals.
What Happens in an Evaluation
Each evaluator works differently, but the basics are the same in most evaluations. The evaluator will want to meet with each parent, the children, and any other adults who live a household with the children. Evaluators will sometimes want to also talk to teachers, pediatricians, and other relevant professionals to get a better picture of what is happening in a child’s life.
Some evaluators will make an announced home visit to see how the family interacts in an informal setting. The evaluator may also perform psychological tests on the parents and children.
The evaluator will take all of the information he or she collects and make a formal written report that will be submitted to the court. Each side will get a copy of the report. The report will contain the evaluator’s recommendations for the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time schedules.
The parenting evaluation may be the part of the case that has the most influence on how the ourtwill rule on all of the issues relating to the children. You should treat the evaluation similar to the way you would treat a job application process. You want to present your best self to the evaluator. You should always keep all of your appointments and always be on time.
The evaluator may want to see school and health records related to the children. Before the evaluator asks for them, collect and organize the paperwork you have about your child. This includes report cards and any paperwork from any recent doctors' visits.
You should never lie to the evaluator, but you should also understand that the evaluator is not necessarily on your side. Anything you tell the evaluator is not confidential and may end up in the report to the judge.
If you have questions or concerns about allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time, contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney. Call 630-232-9700 today to schedule a consultation at the Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates.